Each day, an average of 10 Canadians die by suicide. That’s over 3650 deaths per year that could have been prevented. With September 10th being World Suicide Prevention Day, we’re going to take this month to explore the common misconceptions about suicide, how we can prevent it for ourselves and loved ones, and what Canada can do to decrease this problem.

Myth 1: Death by Suicide is Most Common in Teens

Suicide occurs at every age, in all genders, and in every country. However, there is a misconception that death by suicide occurs overwhelmingly in the teenaged population. While teens in First Nation and Inuit communities are more likely than teens in non-First Nation and Inuit communities to die by suicide, the demographic with the most deaths by suicide in Canada is men between the ages of 40 and 60.

Myth 2: Talking About Suicide Will Trigger Suicide

There’s another misconception that talking about death by suicide will trigger those with suicidal thoughts to follow through on them. Unfortunately, this type of thinking only keeps those who are suffering in the dark, too ashamed or scared to get help. The more accurate information is shared about death by suicide, the more resources will become available and accessible to those who need them.

Myth 3: People Who Are Suicidal Want to Die

Although death can be a result of suicidal thoughts, it is rarely the ultimate goal. The person suffering doesn’t specifically want to die; they want to escape the pain of living. When they feel there is no way to relieve the pain and feel better, they consider taking their lives. We know that when resources and treatment options are available, those with suicidal thoughts choose to live.

The Demand for a National Strategy to Prevent Deaths by Suicide

On May 8, 2019, Canada adopted motion M-174 which established the National Suicide Prevention Strategy. This motion provides a roadmap for suicide prevention leaders to spread awareness, implement change, and assist all levels of government in carrying out this strategy.

Read the most recent edition of the M-174 Framework here.

While M-174 was a tremendous step in preventing death by suicide, more needs to be done. As the blueprint for this motion states, preventing death by suicide is everyone’s responsibility – not just government and non-profit organizations. Private organizations, communities, and individuals all have a role to play in preventing suicide.

How You Can Help

Knowing and sharing accurate information about suicide can lead to better public understanding and thus, less shame for people impacted by suicide through loss of loved ones and for people who have attempted suicide. Talking about this problem during the month of September and on World Suicide Prevention Day is a great way to help.

Crisis Services Canada has an excellent resource page answering the most commonly asked questions about death by suicide.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention released their 2020 Toolkit for ways you can help prevent death by suicide.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, they can get immediate help by calling the CSC hotline at 1-833-456-4566.

After the death of David and Deborah Cooper’s son Eli by suicide, they established Eli’s Place in his memory to help prevent more deaths. Learn more about our story here, and if you’d like to support our mission to bring more young adults from mental illness to recovery, consider learning about the ways you can get involved. Eli’s Place: Where Recovery Grows.